Wednesday, June 24, 2015

My Kids Love to Read and I Hate the Summer Reading Program

Let me preface this by saying I don't fault anyone for liking the summer reading program at their local library. If you love it, that's great! Your kids dig the prizes and logging their reading hours? Awesome!

My Kids Love to Read and I Hate the Summer Reading Program -- We did our library's summer reading program one year and it turned me into a crazy person. My kids love books, but here are 5 reasons why we're never doing the summer reading program.  {posted @ Unremarkable Files}We do like the summer schedule of events at the library. If there's a free animal show or a robotics demo, sign us up.

But we don't do the reading logs. And I'll be perfectly honest: it's because I hate them.

We did the summer reading program one year, and it was a disaster for the following reasons:

1. Trips to the library = maximum stress.

My kids love going to the library, and ordinarily I love taking them. But when we tried to do the summer reading program, every trip was preceded by frantic running around and yelling, "Where's my reading log? How much do you think I read yesterday?" and of course when we showed up at the library, "I left my reading log at home!"

In our van, someone is almost always crying, bleeding, or having some other minor emergency. We're also usually late for something. We don't need a summer reading program to inject additional stress into our car trips; we're doing just fine in that department on our own.

2. We can never find the reading logs. Ever.

No matter where I kept the reading logs, whether tacked on the fridge or in a locked box buried 5 feet underground, they were always missing. Always. They were lost instantly when we arrived home from signing up for the summer reading program, every time they wanted to log their reading time, and whenever it was time to go to the library.

Even if we did manage to bring them with us (yay!) they were inexplicably lost somewhere between the car and the librarian's desk.

3. Other random tragedies befall the reading logs.

In general, loose pieces of paper don't fare well in our house. Little sisters draw on things. People spill water on things. Random pieces of paper lying around get thrown in the recycling. They just do.

Would an online version of the reading log be better? Maybe. But probably not. Because...

4. My kids can't track their reading.

Oh, they're smart kids who know how to use a stopwatch, but they just don't read that way. They don't say, "Okay Self, I am going to sit down and read a book now. Let me get my timer and set it for 20 minutes!"

No, the way my kids read is like this: I send them to get the broom and dustpan for me, but they get distracted by a book sitting on top of the washing machine. Twenty minutes later when I go looking for them, I find them standing slack-jawed in front of the book, sometimes with one hand outstretched toward the broom as a token of their forgotten mission. Repeat scenario twenty times per day.

If books were black holes, my kids would be the unfortunate stars getting sucked into them. There's no planning ahead for that. Counting the number of minutes they read is like tabulating how many child-sized socks there are scattered around my house at any given time: impossible.

5. I don't want the responsibility.

And it turns out, neither do they.

That summer we learned that reading logs turn me into a crazy person. So the next year I told the kids that if they wanted to sign up, it was going to be completely their project. I would provide rides to the library, but anything having to do with a reading log was no longer my responsibility.

I believe their logs made it to the library once, and after that summer, the kids never asked about the summer reading program again. I think they realized it just wasn't worth it.

The registration period for our library's summer reading program starts on Monday, and we're not signing up. We're not even going to think about it.

My kids will read too much this summer, just like they always do, just because they love reading. In fact I'll have to remind them when it's time to put down their books to go outside and play.

Maybe there's a summer playing program we could enroll in, instead?

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Crystal said...

Almost ten years ago, when we had a lot less going on, we participated in summer reading program. It caused my son to suddenly refuse to ever read because he had to keep track and write it down. My daughter who had just learned to read, kicked the pants off every other kid participating. They hung all the little card you filled out in the library and about half were hers. There was no prize. She had just been sure she was going to get some amazing prize and no one even acknowledged that she did so well. She is extremely competitive and it was an ugly scene! This year's summer reading involved me telling my 8-year-old that I would buy a Paw Patrol book he wanted if he would read it to his little brother because I HATE reading books based off TV shows.

Jenny Evans said...

I think the Disney movie books are the worst! It takes longer to read the things than it does to watch the entire movie!

Marcy said...

True, true. Many times kids would have met the required reading for the entire summer within the first week. It was almost embarrassing to turn them in that soon. And they sheets did tend to always be e lost. Some years my kids would actually do a good job of keeping track so they could earn a free book ans/or pay down their library fines

Jenny Evans said...

I know how you feel about it being embarrassing to have it done so soon! I like that you can pay down your library fines with your summer reading program. Our library has a "Fine Amnesty Day" where your fines can be forgiven. We haven't ever used it because I can never remember when it is, though!

Unknown said...

I'm sad the summer reading program causes to much stress. We've never been supper hyper about keeping track of the hours. We have an established reading times, and I count those, and then approximate the other times. It works and our library gives out free movie passes.

Swapna said...

LOL! This was too funny! My problem with library books is the books! i just don't want to read them to my kid! They're too boring! I prefer my own stash I've shopped for!

Emily Gibbons said...

I feel this way about the reading homework logs we never turn in for school as well.

Jenny Evans said...

Emily: don't even get me started on school reading logs. My kids get all stressed over them, and I'm like, "Look: you read the whole time on the bus to and from school today. You read at free time. You might have read at recess and I wouldn't be at all surprised if you were reading under your desk when you were supposed to be listening to your teacher. I'll sign whatever you give me with complete confidence that you did at least 20 minutes of reading today. Even if you haven't done it yet, I KNOW you'll be up after bedtime reading the secret book you have under your pillow you think I don't know about!"

Kat said...

I hate this for you. I know when our library did summer reading this way, we did not participate, and I only have 1 kid.
Our library now does it all online, and the kids can track pages read or minutes read. Oh, and those lovely programs, they count as 60 minutes (or 60 pages) of reading time.

Jen said...

I'm a children's librarian and I hate what summer reading programs have become. Just an FYI, they aren't actually about reading. They are about numbers, and staff are pressured to increase those numbers every year and held accountable if they don't. I totally understand about reading logs being a hassle, paper ones get lost and online is great if you're a middle-class family with access to high-speed internet and devices at home, but there are many families who do not. I wrote a blog article of my own about why I hate summer reading programs as a librarian:

Anonymous said...

I work at a library as a circulation assistant and I loath summer reading. It's not the idea I dislike. It's the way our summer reading is set up. Kids can just check out as many books as they want and then return the reminder slip saying, "I read all these." Now I know not all kids are being honest about that, and that's my issue. I wish our program had some way to prove the kid read the book, like taking a little quiz afterward (I'm sure that wouldn't go over too well though.) Also, from personal experience, when I was a kid summer was the season I read the least. I loved being outdoors and taking a break from books. I really don't think summer reading encourages kids to read any more than they already do. And it just creates more stress for library workers because we're processing all the book returns that kids probably didn't read half of.